My current PT (or OT, or SLP) recommended hippotherapy, what exactly does that mean?

The term hippotherapy refers to how occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals use evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning in the purposeful manipulation of equine movement as a therapy tool to engage sensory, neuromotor and cognitive systems to promote functional outcomes.

Best practice dictates that occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology professionals integrate hippotherapy into the patient’s plan of care, along with other therapy tools and/or strategies. 

Are there hippotherapists in the U.S.A.?

The term “hippotherapist” is not used in the United States. Individuals are identified by their profession of licensure: OT, PT, SLP. For example, Andrea is a physical therapist who incorporates hippotherapy into her clinical practice. Refer to the American Hippotherapy Certification Board (AHCB) website for information on how to become a certified therapist utilizing hippotherapy in your practice. www.hippotherapycertification.org

Who can provide therapy services that include hippotherapy?

Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists, Physical Therapy Assistants, Occupational Therapy Assistants and Speech Language Pathologist Assistants who have received specialized post graduate continuing education training through taking the AHA Inc. Part I and Part II (Foundation courses) would be the best at providing these services in the USA.  Therapists who take AHA, Inc. courses are taught the principles, application and clinical decision skills to apply skillfully manipulated equine movement (hippotherapy) a plan of care for a patient.


How do I start integrating hippotherapy into my clinical practice?
For the therapist:

Begin with appropriate training and education through AHA, Inc. coursework. Find a mentor to assist you in your training. Develop a working relationship with an appropriate and reputable equine facility that can provide the staff and equine resources necessary, unless you are developing your own. Market your service to your referral sources and identify those clients who are appropriate for this treatment strategy. AHA, Inc. also has as part of its curriculum The Business Connection course that can help you get started.

For the facility administrator:

If you are currently affiliated with a consulting therapist in your adaptive riding program find out if they are interested in acquiring the training to start this service. If not, you can search the AHA, Inc. website on the “Find a Therapist” tab to locate a qualified therapist in your area who may have a therapy practice and is interested in setting up onsite at your facility or be able to assist you in the process. Hippotherapy is not a stand-alone service and is part of a comprehensive therapy service.  The therapy provided will be Physical, Occupational or Speech Therapy and not should not be referred to as a “Hippotherapy Program”.  The patients may progress to levels that are appropriate for transitioning into your adaptive riding/driving/ vaulting programs.

How do I make a donation?

Click here to make a donation to AHA, Inc. and support “Advancing therapy through education.”  If you are interested in 2019 Conference Sponsorship, Legacy Giving Opportunities and/or setting up recurring donations please send an e-mail to Karen Renshaw, AHA, Inc. Interim Executive Director, [email protected]

I am confused by terminology. Where can I get some clarity for accurate communication and documentation?

Click Here to see AHA, Inc.’s “Terminology Paper” for more comprehensive explanations of terminology related to hippotherapy and ensure you are using the most up-to-date terminology in your documentation, social media and marketing material.

Click Here to see a free webinar presentation on Terminology and its effects on research and reimbursement that was presented at the HETI 2018 Congress in Dublin Ireland.

Where do I find educational courses that would allow me to start integrating hippotherapy into my clinical practice?

As a basic foundation, AHA, Inc. Best Practice Guidelines recommend taking both Level I and Level II Treatment Principles courses.

Part I Treatment Principles is a four-day course designed for therapists interested in learning to incorporate hippotherapy into their plan of care (OT, PT, SLP, COTA, PTA, and SLPA). Online/ Lecture/Practicum format including hands-on learning with horses.  Pre-requisite: AHA, Inc. online “Intro to Equine Skills., Click Here to sign-up for this course now.

The Level II Treatment Principles course is an advanced level four-day course focusing on treatment plan development and clinical decision making skill development when implementing equine movement (hippotherapy) through hands on collaborative patient treatment.  Lecture, discussion, collaborative work, and patient treatment for effective use of equine movement, the environment and the incorporation of a comprehensive plan of care take the therapist through the process from evaluation to hands on treatment and reassessment and reeval over 2 treatment sessions. This course is for licensed therapists who are incorporating equine movement into their patients’ treatment plans.  Pre-requisite: AHA, Inc. Part I Treatment Principles course.  Click Here to learn more about all of AHA, Inc.’s courses.

Can I get CEU’s if I attend your Level I and Level II courses?

Because PT, OT and SLP CEU’s are all approved independently please refer to the specifics by specialty.  AHA, Inc. courses are not currently approved for CEU’s at a national level.

Occupational and physical therapy practice boards approve CEU’s by state.  Some hosting facilities may have applied to their state boards. If it is not listed on a course brochure it is recommended you check before assuming you can get CEU’s in a given state.  California and New York’s PT Board has approved all AHA, Inc. curriculum for CEU’s.  Rhode Island requires continuing education hours rather than CEU’s and thus the Contact Hours of all AHA, Inc. courses are approved for Contact Hours in Rhode Island.

AHA, Inc. is not a provider of ASHA CEU’s for speech – language pathologist at this time. SLP’s may be able to apply for CEU’s through their state licensing agency.

How do I become certified? 

AHA, Inc. is an educating organization and provides educational opportunities to learn how to incorporate skilled equine movement into occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech language pathology practice.  Additionally, AHA, Inc. teaches courses in how to provide education for the horse handler in the training, maintenance and application of the variances of movement patterns required for horses who are part of the treatment for patients during hippotherapy.  The American Hippotherapy Certification Board (AHCB) offers two different exams.  If you are interested in one of the AHCB certification exams contact AHCB directly.  For PT, PTA, OT, OTA, SLP and SLPA’s interested in the Entry Level Certification in Hippotherapy please click this link to the Hippotherapy Certification Exam For PT, OT, SLP’s interested in becoming a Clinical Specialist in Hippotherapy please click this link Hippotherapy Clinical Specialist Certification Exam Visit the AHCB exams website or contact the AHCB board chair, Carol Huegel, directly for details at [email protected].

Does AHCB have their own website? 

Yes, AHCB has their own website with all information you need regarding certification exams. The link is www.hippotherapycertification.org.

What is my member number?

Please check your annual membership renewal email for your membership number. You can also log onto “member section” of the AHA, Inc website and your member number can be found there.  If you cannot locate this, email McKenna Wood our Membership Coordinator at [email protected].

What is my password to log into the Member’s only area of the AHA, Inc. website?

Click the log in button on the top left corner of the Home Page of the website.  Under the log-in click on “Lost Password” and it will ask for your email or user name, then send you a new password.  If you forget your username or email the AHA, Inc. staff can assist with that information.  Passwords must be reset through the “Lost Password” link.

Why doesn’t AHA, Inc. list Level I and/or Level II Therapist after my name on their “Find a Therapist” listing of the website?

Therapists are listed according to location, name, licensure, and any additional credentials and utilizing this after names on the “Find a therapist” listing may be misleading regarding experience and expertise. Level I and Level II denotes AHA, Inc. educational courses not credentials.   Contact American Hippotherapy Certification Board (AHCB) for information on credentialing exams via their board chair Carol Huegel at [email protected].